Commissioner names firms over 'nuisance' marketing calls
The Information Commissioner's Office has named firms it has concerns over regarding unsolicited marketing calls.
Companies revealed on the ICO website include British Gas, Scottish Power, Talk Talk, Weatherseal Home Improvements, The Claims Guys, We Fight Any Claim and Anglian Windows.
The ICO can issue fines of up to £500,000 for breaches of regulations on unwanted calls, texts and emails.
The companies named said they were working with the ICO.
The list was compiled from complaints to the authority and the Telephone Preference Service. The ICO said it expected to see improvements in their operations in the coming months.
Three more companies, which have not been named, are being investigated by the ICO.
Speaking to Radio 4's You & Yours, Simon Entwistle, the director of operations at the ICO, said that while companies often maintained that they had permission to contact customers directly, separate consent must exist for marketing calls.
He added that there was no action they could take about calls which were made to chase a debt.
The ICO studied complaints about live calls.
These are unsolicited direct marketing calls received by consumers from a real live person.
"We start off by working with the organisations because some of these big companies like British Gas and Talk Talk want to get this right but clearly there are problems," he said.
"We talk to them about how they can get it right and where we see in their system that something is going wrong.
"There is another category of organisation that only pay lip service to the regulations, what they want to do is to make as many calls as possible and try and get away with it.
"With those we take a very different approach, we have not named those organisations because we are actively gathering evidence in order to fine them for flouting the regulations as opposed to working and helping people who actually want to get it right."Highest standards
The Telephone Preference Service
The Telephone Preference Service runs a register that allows people to opt out of any unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
Individuals can register for free by visiting the website or calling 0845 070 0707. It takes 28 days for registration to become effective.
Mobile phone numbers can also be registered, although this will not prevent unsolicited text messages.
It is a legal requirement that all organisations - including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties - do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have the individual's consent to do so.
A spokesman for British Gas said: "We uphold the highest standards when contacting people in their homes, and only use contact information if we have express permission to do so."
Scottish Power said it was working with the ICO. Talk Talk said complaints had fallen, it was not facing enforcement action and was working with the ICO.
We Fight Any Claim said its data was provided by an external company and if numbers listed on the Telephone Preference Service slipped through they were immediately blocked.
Anglian Windows said it took complaints seriously.
Weatherseal Home Improvements confirmed it had been contacted by the ICO and was co-operating.
The BBC contacted The Claims Guys but has yet to receive a response.